College basketball changes every year. As the NBA seems to be on the verge of revoking the one-and-done rule and the G-League is offering programs for the elitist of the elite in each recruiting class, college basketball will continue to change. But there will continue to be great college basketball players every season and every decade.
110 Sports created a formula to determine the 100 greatest college basketball players of the last decade spanning from the 2010-11 season through the end of 2019-20. The base requirement to be considered for the list was making an all-conference first team and 1,351 players fit that basic criteria. All 1,351 players went through the algorithm to determine the greatest 100 to play the sport over the last 10 seasons.
Each player gets credit for their individual statistics, accolades and team achievements. The average of the two best seasons in each statistical category — points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks — are accounted for. One point for every four points averaged, one point for every two assists and rebounds and one point for each block and assist averaged. The two best seasons give players credit for consistency while also accurately representing a player who only had one great season.
Each mid-major conference player of the year is worth two points while a major conference is worth three. An AP First Team All-American is worth seven points, a second team is worth five and a third team all-american is worth three points. And a Naismith Player of the Year — the most valuable accolade in the formula — is worth eight points.
110 Sports used the Naismith Player of the Year due to its accuracy. It awards the same player every year as the AP Player of the Year except for the 2015-16 season when the Associated Press named Denzel Valentine the player of year when it was clearly Buddy Hield. The Naismith award recognized Hield that season which is why the Naismith list was used.
Each conference regular season title is worth two points in a mid-major and three points in a major conference. A conference tournament title is worth one point and two points, respectively. Each player gets two points every time their team makes the NCAA Tournament, four points for each Final Four and six points for a National Championship.
|Points (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 4 points (12 ppg = 3 points)|
|Assists (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 2 assists ( 6 assists = 3 points)|
|Rebounds (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 2 rebounds (6 rebounds = 3 points)|
|Steals (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 1 steal (3 steals = 3 points)|
|Blocks (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 1 block (3 blocks = 3 points)|
|Regular season title||3 points (major), 2 points (mid-major)|
|Conference tournament title||2 points (major), 1 point (mid-major)|
|NCAA Tournament appearance||2 points|
|Final Four appearance||4 points|
|National Championship||6 points|
|AP All-American||7 points (1st Team), 5 points (2nd Team), 3 points (3rd team)|
|Naismith Player of the Year||8 points|
The formula is not perfect, but it takes out as much bias as possible. And please remember, this is an examination of the greatest players of the decade, not the best.
With that being said, these are the 100 greatest players of the decade starting at 100 and counting down.
100. G Monte Morris | Iowa State | 2013/14-2016/17
Total Points: 25 (Individual Points: 19)
At a Glance: Three-time Big 12 Tournament Champion (2014, 2015, 2017)
Josh Mullenix: I remember Morris’ career at Iowa State much more fondly than it actually looks on paper, so I’m glad he made the list. With that being said he was a phenomenal true point guard that made very few mistakes and finished in the top 50 all-time in assists. He was the Kansas killer, winning three Big 12 tournaments in four years, but that’s where a good portion of his points are coming from without any player of the year or all-american honors.
Chris Brown: Although I was originally rather indifferent on Morris making the top 100, a closer look back makes me really glad he did. While teammates like Georges Niang (who, spoiler alert, is roughly 50 spots ahead of Morris) put up flashier numbers, Morris averaged double figures every year since his sophomore season and led the NCAA in assist-to-turnover in three of his four college seasons. The most basic numbers don’t tell the full story with Morris.
Josh Doering: I will not budge in my belief Morris has to be on this list for two reasons. First, nobody took care of the basketball and made their teammates better the way Morris did. Second, he beat Kansas five times when no one else in the conference could. Only the Jayhawks and Cyclones claimed a Big 12 title of any kind during Morris’ time in Ames. He is a prime example of why greatness cannot be measured by numbers alone.
99. G Yogi Ferrell | Indiana | 2012/13-2015/16
Total Points: 25 (19)
At a Glance: 2015-16 AP Third Team All-American, two-time Big 10 regular season champion (2012-13, 2015-16)
JM: Ferrell was part of the two best Indiana teams of the decade including the 2012-13 team that reached No. 1 in the AP Poll. He averaged 17 points and four assists but the lack of individual accolades — apart from the third team honor — and substantial success as a team leave him just inside the top 100. He was better than some of the guys higher on this list, but Indiana never lived up to postseason expectations. I’m not upset about where the formula put him.
CB: While I believe the formula we came up with did a very good job in ranking the greatest 100 players of the 2010s, this is one of a few times where I wish a little less emphasis was put on a team’s NCAA Tournament success. Had Indiana reached just one Final Four during Ferrell’s college career, his ranking would jump to around 70th, which seems more appropriate. That being said, Ferrell was rewarded nicely for IU’s two conference regular season titles during his time, which fortunately was enough to get him just inside the top 100.
JD: I was disappointed to see Ferrell this low but that’s what happens when you miss an NCAA Tournament and don’t make it past the Sweet 16 the other three seasons. The two Big 10 regular season titles give him some sort of reward for starting on two teams that went a combined 29-7 in conference play. Those Indiana teams failed to live up to their potential in March, and Farrell paid the price.
98. G Kyle Anderson | UCLA | 2012/13-2013/14
Total Points: 25 (20)
At a Glance: 2013-14 AP Third Team All-American, 2012-13 Pac-12 regular season champion
JM: Slo Mo was an impactful player on the second and third best UCLA teams of the decade behind the Lonzo Ball 2016-17 Bruins. His 14.6 points, 8.8 boards and 6.5 assists averages in 2013-14 were worthy of the AP Third Team All-American honors Anderson got that season. However, like the majority of the players around him, his individual accolades aren’t accompanied by major postseason success. He should be on the list, but his position towards the bottom is appropriate.
CB: The Bruins didn’t advance past the Sweet 16 in Anderson’s two seasons, but his individual numbers along with his key role on some of the best UCLA teams of the last 10 years makes him deserving of a spot inside the top 100. Dubbed “the nation’s top triple-double threat”, Anderson became the first player in DI history with at least 500 points, 300 rebounds, and 200 assists in a season. I’m glad he’s getting some recognition for that with this formula.
JD: UCLA went 53-19 in Anderson’s two seasons as a Bruin, which is important to remember when evaluating his legacy. His sophomore campaign is the reason he snuck onto our list: 14.6 points, 6.5 assists, 8.8 rebounds, 48.0% from the floor, 48.3% from deep. That — along with a regular season and conference tournament title — leaves me completely satisfied with his inclusion.
97. G Jeremy Lamb | UConn | 2010/11-2011/12
Total Points: 25 (23)
At a Glance: 2011 Final Four, 2011 National Champion
JM: There are some instances where our formula spits out a number that is much higher than the actual representation of the player due to postseason success or conference dominance. This is one of those instances. Lamb was a solid player for those UConn teams and his 17 points per game as a sophomore is respectable, but he did very little else. If it weren’t for the National Championship he wouldn’t have sniffed this list. With that being said, you have to give natty’s the respect they deserve and I understand why he found the back end of the top 100.
CB: I’ll just cut right to it: Lamb doesn’t belong in the top 100. Yes, he did average double-digits while starting for UConn’s championship team, and yes, his 17+ points per game his sophomore year was impressive. But that’s about all there was with Lamb. A good player who made an immediate impact, Lamb never reached the truly elite level of others on this list. I’d have him probably 10-20 spots outside my top 100, at least.
JD: I will never hold the 2010-11 UConn national championship in the same category as most of the others in the decade because the Huskies went .500 in conference. There is a reason they had to play five games to win the Big East Tournament. That being said, their sweep of the Maui Invitational, grueling Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament is ridiculous. I’m completely fine with Lamb making the cut. I also would not have been upset if he didn’t.
96. G Marcus Smart | Oklahoma State | 2012/13-2013/14
Total Points: 25 (25)
At a Glance: 2012-13 AP Second Team All-American, 2012-13 Big 12 Player of the Year
JM: Smart and the guy coming up next are a little lower on the list than I would like for them to be. Both were second team all-americans but played in a conference that was dominated by Kansas over the decade. Smart led Oklahoma State to its best years of the 2010s by a considerable margin getting to the tournament both years. In the formula, a second team all-american and Big 12 Player of the Year can only get you so far and Smart never got past the second round of the NCAA Tournament or won any team titles in the Big 12. I would’ve liked to see him a little higher.
CB: Look at Oklahoma State’s resume over the last 10 years and two seasons — 2012-13 and 2013-14 — stand above the rest. Smart’s impact on the Cowboys cannot be understated, as he led a team that missed the NIT back to the Big Dance in 2013. He made a major impact out of the gate, averaging 15.4 points, 4.2 assists, and roughly six rebounds in his freshman year, and upped that scoring average to 18 points the next year. Oklahoma State never advanced out of the second round of the NCAA Tournament those two years, but Smart did become the first player in tourney history with 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals in a game.
JD: It is no coincidence Oklahoma State’s best two-year stretch of the past decade was Smart’s two seasons in Stillwater. In his freshman year, the Cowboys won 24 games for the first time since 2004-05 and more than 12 conference games for the first time since 2003-04. They have not come close to doing either since. Smart averaged 16.6 points, 4.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds for his college career. In an ideal world, I’d like to see him more in the 85-90 range but I’m not losing sleep over it.
95. G Jevon Carter | West Virginia | 2014/15-2017/18
Total Points: 25 (25)
At a Glance: 2017-18 AP Second Team All-American
JM: Carter is another player at the mercy of Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks. He was the best backcourt defender of the decade, in my opinion, and was the reason that Press Virginia gave other teams nightmares finishing tied for 18th on the all-time steals list. He won 105 games as a Mountaineer and absolutely deserves to be higher on this list. But, like Smart, he ran into the Jayhawks in postseason tournaments and West Virginia never made it past the Sweet Sixteen while he was there. The postseason success is underwhelming, but he was so much better than 95th at West Virginia.
CB: The anchor of the “Press Virginia” defenses and a perfect fit for Bob Huggins’ system, Carter transformed from a solid role player to one of the best point guards in the country in his four years with the Mountaineers. He was always a great defender and became just the seventh player to win the NABC Defensive Player of the Year award more than once. He also reached a new level offensively in his senior season, averaging 17.3 points, 6.6 assists, and 3.0 steals per game. The team’s lack of great postseason success is why Carter only barely makes the top 100, but I’m glad he did.
JD: It would have been a shame if the best perimeter defender of the decade was left off our list. By the time he left Morgantown, Carter had become an elite offensive player as well (17.3 points and 6.6 assists per game as a senior). He is similar to Morris in the sense that his numbers do not accurately depict his greatness, although averaging three steals a game in the Big 12 provides some context. West Virginia’s decline since Carter graduated has further solidified his legacy.
94. F JaJuan Johnson | Purdue | 2007/08-2010/11
Total Points: 25 (25)
At a Glance: 2010-11 AP First Team All-American, 2010-11 Big Ten Player of the Year
JM: Johnson only had one season count toward this list, but it was a good one. He averaged 20.5 points and 8.6 rebounds which earned him first team all-american and Big Ten Player of the Year honors for a really good Purdue team that went 14-4 in conference play. It wasn’t a historical year by any means, but one good enough that I don’t have an issue with him just barely making the list.
CB: Only Johnson’s final year at Purdue counts toward consideration for this list, which is why he comes in at No. 94. And with the Boilers getting knocked out in the third round of the NCAA Tournament that season, this ranking reflects the incredible numbers Johnson put up that year: 20.5 points and 8.6 boards per game. Johnson was both conference player of the year and a Wooden Award finalist. I likely wouldn’t have thought to include him in my top 100, but a spot in the 90s seems appropriate.
JD: Johnson rightly won Big Ten Player of the Year over another First Team All-American who won both the regular season and conference tournament and will appear later in our rankings. Anyone capable of doing that has a spot in the top 100 as far as I’m concerned. He’s closer to 100 than 90 for me due to the lack of team success in his one eligible season. That Purdue team was excellent though.
93. C Nana Foulland | Bucknell | 2014/15-2017/18
Total Points: 26 (16)
At a Glance: Four-time Patriot regular season champion
JM: The formula gives credit to every regular season champion regardless of the conference. However, there are some players who really benefit from a team’s dominant stretch. Foulland is the first of that kind. He was a part of four Patriot League regular season champions and a substantial chunk of his points come from that achievement. However, he did average at least 10.2 points each year at Bucknell and started all but one game over his four years. This will happen a couple more times on this list and it was an inevitable byproduct of the formula. He certainly wouldn’t have made my top 100 list if the approach was different but the algorithm deems him worthy.
CB: It’s not hard to figure out why Foulland is in the top 100: Bucknell won the Patriot League title in each of his college seasons. Regular season success is important, yes, and generally, our emphasis on it in our formula pays off, but Foulland is certainly the first of a few big cases of a player getting too much credit for his team’s success relative to his own numbers. That’s not to say Foulland’s numbers were poor — he averaged 13.1 points in four seasons — but they aren’t nearly enough to claim a high ranking with zero NCAA Tournament wins. Foulland would have been comfortably outside of my personal top 100.
JD: We have officially arrived at the first member of what I will call the “perennial winners club.” I am a huge advocate for increasing the value of regular season titles, so it would be hypocritical for me to completely dismiss Foulland. I can, however, say that zero NCAA Tournament victories in two appearances is enough to keep him off of my personal list.
92. F De’Mon Brooks | Davidson | 2010/11-2013/14
Total Points: 26 (18)
At a Glance: Two-time SoCon Player of the Year (2011-12, 2013-14)
JM: Very few players won multiple player of the year awards in their conference. That’s impressive regardless of which conference and Brooks did just that. Accompanying those individual accolades are three regular season titles for the Wildcats in the first half of the decade. Yes, he is a mid-major player, and no, he did not change the world like Steph Curry did at Davidson, but anyone who won multiple player of the year awards can go on the list and you won’t hear any complaining from me.
CB: Brooks’ two conference player of the year awards stand out relative to other somewhat similar mid-major players, and elevate him into the top 100. In Brooks’ sophomore and junior years, the Wildcats surpassed 15 SoCon victories for the only times in the 2010s, and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament both years. His 19 points and seven boards per game his senior year were also quite impressive. I may not have had Brooks quite this high, but I really can’t argue with it.
JD: In the three years Brooks was a starter, Davidson won 71% of the games it played and lost a total of four times in conference. The Wildcats dominated the SoCon and Brooks took home the conference’s highest individual honor twice. Don’t get fooled into thinking that happens all the time at the mid-major level. I would bump him down a few spots but I’m not going to say our formula overrated him.
91. G Tyshawn Taylor | Kansas | 2008/09-2011/1
Total Points: 26 (18)
At a Glance: 2011-12 AP Third Team All-American, 2012 Final Four
JM: Tyshawn Taylor, along with two other players on this list from the 2011-12 Kansas team, would be much higher if Anthony Davis didn’t exist. The Jayhawks were a top 5 team all season and dominated the Big 12, but they ran into arguably the best college basketball team of the decade in the National Championship, the 38-2 Kentucky Wildcats. As a result, he’s lower on this list than I would’ve liked but was one more win away from being around the No. 50 mark on the list.
CB: While I first acknowledge that the personnel around him made it such that Taylor wasn’t consistently relied upon to put up big point totals, it is also important to acknowledge that he was somewhat underwhelming as a scorer in his first three seasons, never averaging double figures. That being said, Taylor’s significant jump in production his senior year and role in leading the Jayhawks to the title game certainly entitles him to a spot here. The typical factors indicate 91st is entirely appropriate. In terms of importance to his team’s success, Taylor certainly would land much higher.
JD: I feel like Taylor is the forgotten man in the Jayhawks’ succession of points guards in the 2010s. Like the other Josh said, he probably walks away with a national championship in just about any other season. While I completely understand how Taylor ended up 91st based on the way we built our scoring system, this is one spot where adding human perspective would be extremely valuable. There is no way he should be behind 90 players.
Photos by: Max Goldberg / Wikimedia Commons (Morris) and Dirk DBQ / Flickr (Taylor)